NAN Celebrates Living Black History, Honoring Vernon E. Hawkins

Every day during Black History Month, we will honor chapter leaders, advocates, and partners who are shaping Black History now.

(February 23rd, 2021) — Today we honor Vernon E. Hawkins.

Throughout his life, Vernon Hawkins has been committed to serving the DC community in countless ways. In 1963, Hawkins worked at the National Committee for Children and Youth, designing and operating an Education and Work Release program for youth sentenced under the Youth Act of 1962 that helped youthful offenders acquire a college degree and jobs. Working with the NAACP, he set up voter registration programs in 12 different states.

Continuing his work to support incarcerated or formerly incarcerated people, Mr. Hawkins designed the DC Department of Corrections’ first work release program for misdemeanor offenders. He then worked for the Department of Rehabilitation Services to provide mental health and employment training for people with disabilities.

From 1991-1995, Hawkins provided services to homeless families, families on welfare, and youth offenders. He directed the DC Department of Human Services, where he oversaw five different agencies supporting mental health, social services, rehabilitation, and physical health. He also designed a twelve-step drug program for women within two years of their release in a DC Department of Corrections Drug Treatment Program. More recently, he worked with the Union Temple Baptist Church, designing a program to provide service employment training to mothers on welfare and persons with HIV.

In a volunteer capacity, Hawkins served as the DC Coordinator for the Civil Rights March on Washington. In recognition of all his service to various DC Communities, Mr. Hawkins has received numerous awards, including the E.B. Whitten Silver Medallion award from the National Rehabilitation Association, their highest service recognition.